I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last decade photographing horses, a subject I’ll never grow tired of capturing. I believe there are infinite opportunities to expand our appreciation of horses with the camera as a guide and with each new series I create, I further my understanding of their enduring appeal.
I also can’t think of another animal whose wild spirit is still so very much a part of its existence, no matter where they are currently residing. This is one of the many reasons horses keep drawing me back into their orbit. Most recently, this fascination swept me into an arena I had never created work before and took under the sea, where my series Equus: Underwater Rhythm was created. These images explore the power of the horse against the otherworldly, surreal backdrop of the ocean.
"Dance of the Sea" (Left) & “Underwater Rhythm” (Right)
My background in fashion photography has always come into play while creating my work. My days in the studio have taught me that even the subtlest of movements on behalf of the subject can completely change the course of an image. The same can also be said of working underwater, where light streaming in through the surface, the angle of the horse’s body, my proximity to the animal, how deep the water is, what the current is like, and a nearly infinite number of other factors, can make or break the resulting photograph.
The minimalist environment hidden beneath the water helped me to keep the focus on the horses where I used light - and the lack thereof - to sculpt their forms. Even without the challenge of working with an animal, creating a minimalist image can be very difficult to create; with less in the frame, everything needs to be perfectly executed.
The prismatic effects of the sun finding its way through the surface of the sea allowed me to harness a sweeping array of tones and textures. This could take the image from dark and foreboding to bright and harsh in a matter of seconds, and I raced to keep up with the horse’s movements knowing that conditions were changing and every second counted.
The resulting images range from those that appear drawn in soft, romantic charcoal - a chiaroscuro effect - to those that bear crisper, more pronounced contours of black and white. I found myself as equally captivated by the bold graphic qualities of images like, “Immersion,” as I was by those that appeared drawn with a graphite pencil, such as, “Nirvana”. There’s also a feeling of weightlessness that would otherwise be lost on these animals on land, such as in “Breaking the Surface.“
"Nirvana" (Left) & “Breaking the Surface” (Right)
One of my personal favorites is “Celestial Light.” In “Celestial Light,” the forever-shifting surface of the sea refracts the light in novel ways as this beautiful horse’s radiant tail remains aloft behind her, adding an ethereal feeling to the entire image.
For me, part of the magic in creating this series was in its difficulties; I love leaving a location feeling as if I’ve earned the images. Admittedly, it was quite a challenge to keep up with the horses even with my diving gear as they effortlessly swam through the water engaged in an underwater dance. Yet, these isolated moments, etched in time by the camera, are a new perspective on a classic, enduring subject.